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Report - Harperbury Psychiatric Hospital, July 2013

Discussion in 'Asylums and Hospitals' started by 12318, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. 12318

    12318 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jun 6, 2013
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    As promised in the Napsbury report, here is the follow up containing the afternoons jaunt round Harperbury hospital


    In 1924 Middlesex County Council purchased the Porters Park estate, comprising a total area of 420 acres, upon which the aerodrome had been built. The area would eventually become the site of both Harperbury and Shenley hospitals

    The first patients were 8 adult males detained under The Mental Deficiency Act 1913. When the construction of new buildings began in 1929, these patients were involved in basic labouring.
    The first of the new buildings were opened in February 1931 and by December housed 342 patients. The site continued to expand - with the addition of female and childrens units - until 1936. After this expansion, the hospital was officially opened by Sir Kingsley Wood - the health minister at the time - in May 1936 and by 1939 the site had 1,194 patients.

    In 1948 the hospital became part of the NHS and was renamed Harperbury Hospital in 1950. By 1964 overcrowding had become a major problem - accommodation designed for 1,354 patients was housing 1,587.

    During the 1970's the hospital became less institutionalised and in 1974 patients started to be discharged back into the community.

    In 1986 the hospital was put under central management, being linked with Leavesden and Cell Barnes Hospitals.
    It was eventually announced during the 1990's that the three hospitals would be subjected to phased closures, with patients initially being transferred to Harperbury from the other two hospitals. Harperbury was the last to close, officially shutting up shop in 2001.

    However, parts of the site remained live - new bungalows to house 80-90 residents with learning difficulties were built in 2008, and two medium secure mental health units were added in 2009. The site was renamed Kingsley Green in July 2011, after Sir Kingsley Wood, and based on the fact that a wrong turn almost resulted in us driving into a construction site, it would appear that the NHS is still adding things to the site there!

    The derelict buildings that remain are due for demolition to make way for more patient housing.
    They are in a terrible state, but to make up for this some H&S bod has tightened up the site - there are a lot of freshly and heavily screwed in boards, making access to most buildings next to impossible without a ladder. Which we did not have. Although with how spongy the ground-floor floors were for the buildings we did get into were, perhaps being unable to get onto a first floor was a good thing...

    Speaking to my dad about it on my return, he told me how he can remember taking my brother up there to play football, as he used to play for the team that has the area as their home fields. He spoke quite unhappily at the memory of being able to see the sad, lonely faces staring out of their windows at the world... I like to think that having the football there on Sundays might have given the patients some benefit, providing them something to watch over that was just that bit different from their usual everyday existence...?

    Sadly, the history is far more interesting than the photos, but I think I still managed to get a few decent ones, despite the sites condition









    Full set here Harperbury Mental Hospital, July 2013 - a set on Flickr

    #1 12318, Jul 4, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013

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